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MARQUETTE — The starts of both the UP200 and Midnight Run are tonight but musher had one more thing to get done. Before they can get to the start line, mushers and their team of dogs must go through a mandatory vet check. This is to ensure the dogs are healthy and able to withstand the physical strains of the race.

Tom Gustafson, Co-Head Veterinarian, UP200, Midnight Run, and Jackpine 30, says, “If you look at it as an endurance event and the people that do like the Noquemanon and these longer races, ski races, marathons and that, it’s a big balance between energy and muscle expenditure. So, it’s a balance the musher have to maintain where they’re feeding the dogs properly throughout the race at the proper intervals, keeping them hydrated.”

A team of vets, vet techs, and veterinary students will be on hand throughout the weekend to make sure the dogs are well taken care of.

Darlene Walch, President, U.P. Sled Dog Association, explains, “We have certain standards that we look for and what we’re doing is verifying that the dogs are in the shape that we think is appropriate for running these races. I’ve seen very few dogs show up that are not in really really good shape. These mushers take good care of their dogs. The vet booklet needs to be carried by the musher and every time they get a subsequent vet check or if they have any questions, they can consult a vet and they are then…have this record with them if there’s any kind of an issue.”

The UP200 begins tonight at 7pm and the start of the Midnight Run will begin around 8:30pm. The Jackpine 30 starts Saturday at 10am. 

For a full schedule of events click here.